To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will undertake a review of the firearms licensing system; and if he will make a statement.
New controls on firearms and shotguns were imposed by the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. I am sure that these controls are justified and should remain.Responsibility for administering the controls currently rests with chief officers of police. The licensing function places an onerous administrative burden on police forces and diverts police officers from skilled police work, which only they can do.I have today issued a public consultation paper which suggests that firearms licensing might be administered by a new civilian firearms control board, staffed by trained firearms and crime prevention experts. This is an imaginative proposal: it would put public safety first by providing a licensing system operated expertly, consistently and economically; and it would release police officers for other work. I urge all those involved to study the consultation paper. Their comments will be most carefully considered. I have placed a copy in the Library.